The following story is brought to you by Jill's strange and slightly demented mind. The ideas within are all her own, though the characters and their personality traits and descriptions (though exaggerated slightly) are owned by Masashi Kishimoto.
Also, this story is set right before Naruto returns in Shippuden from his training with Jiraiya. I plan to alter what happened then, though…
"GAI-SENSEI!" Lee screamed, the terror evident in his voice as he watched his teacher writhe in pain. "Are you all right?"
Gai mumbled something no one could understand. Lee looked even more frightened. "We must take you to the hospital quickly," he said, trying not to let his sensei know just how worried he was for fear that the older but still extremely youthful man would resist.
His teacher nodded his head weakly, and Neji and Tenten rushed forward, and placed their arms around the man to support him. Distributing their teacher's weight between them, the two waited for Lee to do something as Gai continued to moan incoherently about the pain.
"I will run ahead to warn the medics of this disaster," Lee said, already sprinting away.
"Lee," Tenten said, feeling that, no matter how much she liked Lee, this was ridiculous and taking his care for Gai-sensei just a little too far. However, Lee did not hear her because he was halfway to Konoha's gates and still running at top speed.
"Come on," Neji said. "It is easier if we just go along with this."
Tenten nodded, and the two began walking back to the city, dragging Gai along with them.
They made it to the hospital shortly, where they saw Lee standing outside with Sakura and Ino, holding his hands anxiously in front of himself.
The two medics walked forward, and Neji and Tenten gratefully let them take Gai's weight, then followed them back inside the hospital.
"OK Gai-sensei, what seems to be the problem?" Sakura asked, her pen poised above her clipboard as she prepared to write a quick summary of Gai's symptoms.
"He had a most youthful accident," Lee quickly said, as if fearful that even talking would further harm his beloved sensei's condition.
"Which was?" Ino asked, waiting for Lee to continue.
Tenten plopped tiredly down in a chair, as Neji leaned against the wall near the door, hand covering his mouth in an attempt to hide his smirk.
"HE STUBBED HIS TOE!" Lee screamed. Before anyone fully had time to digest just how awful this was, Lee continued at the same volume, "My wonderful teacher, Gai-sensei, has been injured by a dastardly tree branch that caught his foot in a youthful jump as we were training. The pain and agony he is in is unbelievable and clearly threatens to violate Gai-sensei's youthfulness."
Neji snorted. Tenten buried her head in her hands, ashamed and embarrassed on behalf of Lee and Gai because she knew they never would be.
Sakura and Ino just stared at each other, until their eyes went dry and they were forced to blink. Then, as one, they turned their glances towards Lee, and Sakura growled out, "Lee, what do you mean telling us this was an emergency?" Each word was painfully dragged out, as she and Ino gave Lee the death glare.
Tenten cringed slightly and went back to looking at her palms. Neji straightened in the doorway, but Lee was entirely nonplussed. "Sakura-san," he said calmly, "Gai-sensei is in extreme pain. Please, deal with this as you would--"
Sakura cut him off. "Pain?" she asked. "Pain?!? Over a stubbed toe? I'll show you pain!" The pink-haired medic was about to pounce, and Tenten knew that no matter how ridiculous it was and how stupid Lee was being, she did not want to see him get hurt.
"Sakura," she said, thinking quickly," Lee is right." The two stopped their impromptu chase around the hospital room and stared at her. "If Gai-sensei actually has an injury, and is as incapacitated by it as he is now, then it must be serious," Tenten pointed out, hoping no one would point out just how silly that logic was. To her immense surprise and relief, Sakura backed off, albeit reluctantly, and turned back toward the bed.
Lee gave her a beaming smile, and Tenten weakly returned it before plonking back down on the chair.
"All right, Gai," Sakura said, dropping all honorifics now. "Let me see your foot. Ino!" she barked, doing a great impression of Tsunade. The girl in question jumped forward, and the two began some medical procedure that no one else in the room even pretended to understand. "OK, Gai, your foot is fine and you will live. Just take one Ibuprofen a day and try to avoid ramming your foot into anything else. And next time, don't be such a baby about it." Sakura and Ino both turned to leave the room but Lee jumped up to stop them.
"Wait, does he not receive any pain medication? Does he not need an overnight stay here in Konoha's best hospital?"
"This is Konoha's only hospital," Ino pointed out. Lee decided to ignore her.
"He doesn't need pain medication, Lee," Sakura said. "All he did was stub his toe. A fairly minor injury that even a child can handle," she emphasized the word "child" very carefully, and both Gai and Lee winced. They might be youthful but they are NOT children. "But Gai," Sakura said sweetly, "if you really want to stay overnight, of course you are welcome to." With that, she and Ino left the room, leaving Tenten, Neji, Lee, and Gai alone in the room.
Gai shifted slightly on the bed, and said, "Well, it would be unyouthful to take up this hospital space when I do not need it. Beautiful students, help get me home!" No one could tell if that was a question or a demand, but they all moved to comply.
Tenten and Neji had long since left Gai-sensei's apartment, Neji claiming clan duties as soon as they arrived and Tenten remembering about an hour and a half later that she had to reorganize her weapon scrolls for training tomorrow. Lee, on the other hand, stayed faithfully behind, tending to his sensei's needs, making him tea and dinner and helping the man dress in his pajamas. Lee was wise enough not to comment on Gai's pajamas choice, though he was shocked at the fact that his sensei, a grown man, still wore purple dinosaur-print long-johns to bed. He put it down to Gai's dedication to the Springtime of Youth.
Gai coughed weakly, and Lee immediately sprang to the bed where he had just tucked his teacher in only moments before. "Sensei, what is wrong?"
Gai looked at Lee seriously for a moment, before saying in a faint voice, "Lee, I may not make it out of this alive…so I have one last request of my most youthful student."
"What do you mean you will not make it out alive, Gai-sensei?" Lee said, the tears threatening to spill out his eyes.
Gai gazed at him sadly, and said, "Lee, this injury is serious. Sakura-san said it was minor and a child could handle it, but a youthful man knows when he is on death's door and for me, that moment is now."
Lee looked at his teacher, sad, and slightly frustrated at the circumstances. "Wh-what do you wish me to do, Gai-sensei?" Lee asked, his voice breaking slightly.
Gai sighed, and studied Lee carefully for a moment. Then, he reached his hand under his pillow and pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper. Worried this was going to be a bucket list, Lee moved to stop him and said, "Gai-sensei, you do not have to show me that. You will be OK."
"You misunderstand, youthful student. This is not a list of things I wish to do before I—before I--" Gai could not say the word. "Before I become unyouthful," he decided to say. "This is a list of people in great need of one of youth's greatest treasures." Gai paused for dramatic effect and to make sure Lee was watching him in awe. Then he continued. "This is a hug list!"
Lee blinked. This was not an unusual action per se, although for Lee, it did highlight his eyes and provided the unwanted effect of making them seem more strange than usual, but it shocked Gai to see his student blink at a basic statement that should, if his calculations were correct, have Lee jumping up and down in anticipation of getting to carry out this "most youthful task."
"Gai-sensei," Lee asked carefully. Gai looked at him expectantly. He knew his student would understand. "I do not understand," Lee finished his sentence.
Gai was unprepared for this. If it was not so stereotypical, he would have also blinked at this moment but Gai hated stereotypes and part of the reason he was so dedicated to the Springtime of Youth was because it went against stereotypes in the first place. Instead, Gai beamed at his student and improvised. "I did not expect you to right away," he confided to Lee. "You see, the Springtime of Youth is a most gracious thing that does not bless all people all the time. You and I have tapped into it and channeled it into our very personalities, clothing, and hairstyles! Other people, however, have been unable to do this and this list is designed to help them." He waited to see if Lee understood.
"I see!" Lee shouted. "This is not just any hug-list, it is a Springtime of Youth hug-list! Written especially for us to fulfill with our youthful qualities!" Lee smiled back at his teacher, his teeth flashing a white that would have blinded any normal man. "But…" Lee's face fell. "Gai-sensei, how will we fulfill this most precious mission with your deathly injuries?" Lee asked, not noticing his teacher's wince at the word "deathly."
Gai looked at him gravely. "This is why I have asked you to complete this mission alone, Lee. I know you can handle it." Gai could feel tears welling in his eyes and he tried to hold them back, at least until Lee responded. Then he would give in to his youthfulness.
"Gai-sensei," Lee said quietly. He thought for a moment, then made up his mind. "All right, Gai-sensei, I will carry out this mission you have requested of me. The Springtime of Youth will not be let down!" he screamed. "I, Rock Lee, Konoha's Beautiful Green Beast, will not let you down, Gai-sensei! All these people will be hugged properly and youthfully by sundown tomorrow, or else I will do 500 laps around Konoha on my thumbs and 250 on just my big toes. I will do 700 pushups with my pinkies and I will practice my taijutsu for seven days straight!" With that, Gai and Lee both let their tears flow freely, and Lee rushed forward in a blur to hug his sensei, though the man was not on the list.
"Lee," Gai said, as they reached the end of their tears and hug, "you do not have to make your punishment for failure that harsh." They cried again.